A map has surfaced recently, championed by the work of a sex tourist called Daryush Valizadeh, that grades women across the world by the level of how easy they are to be picked up.
Sounds sexist? You bet. Sounds wrong as well? It does on so many levels.
I’ve checked the map out of curiosity. It has went viral in the past few days. I have no idea on what basis it was constructed but people seem not to care. The map itself might as well serve as a “where you can rape” guide for men who have no inkling on what it means to hold it in.
But I figured I’d check where Lebanon stands. Our women, whose reputation has been tarnished by folks of the region who view anything that doesn’t fit their mold as promiscuity, are anything but the promiscuous kind that many love to portray them to be.
You can check out the map here.
Regardless of what such a map might mean, Lebanon remains a country where sex is a taboo. The joke goes as follows:
Most Lebanese guys I know:
– Are you with premarital sex?
– Would you marry a girl who had premarital sex?
ARE YOU INSANE?
I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
It seems that the hopes of Lebanese men everywhere have been crushed by our Security officials deciding not to grant Ania Lisewska entry into Lebanon.
For those who don’t know, Ania Lisewska is a 21 year old Polish woman who is on a world tour to sleep with 100,000 men from different cities across the world. Lebanon was on her list and, until very recently, it seemed she would get to pick a random Lebanese man to sleep with: Hezbollah and Future Movement MPs saw her as an indecent glorification of prostitution. It seems sex is something they agree upon. Elie Marouni, the Kataeb MP, had no problem in granting her entry and was wondering if she’d survive her quest. The words he used: “betdall taybé?”
No pun, Mr. Marouni?
Two recent reports (here and here), however, indicate that she won’t, even though Polish people don’t require a visa to enter Lebanon. Her name will be blacklisted on our airport borders. Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco have all refused her as well. She has been granted entry to Iraq and Egypt.
Her Facebook page posting about entry to Egypt is littered with comments from Egyptian men bragging about their package, awaiting her entry. I suggest you take a look for your dose of daily comedy (link). I daresay many Lebanese men would have done worse to get in her pants had she been allowed entry here.
The question though is why ban her? Is what she’s doing considered prostitution? I don’t think so – not that prostitution is illegal in Lebanon to begin with. Odds are the man she decides to sleep with here will remain anonymous unless, which is probably the case, he decides to make his identity public. He won’t be paying her and she won’t be engaging in any form of public indecency.
Are we supposed to be up in a fit because what she’s doing doesn’t fit with our higher order morale code? I can think of way too many things taking place in Lebanon on daily basis that are allowed, that do not fit any form of morality and that many of us still accept. Except talking about sex – about women having sex and discussing their sex life openly – will always be a taboo around here and a mark of shame. Public order rests on a vagina with an intact hymen, preferably.
Ania Lisewska – her name is a mouthful, no pun – won’t be coming here – no pun. Our country’s morales are saved.
Popsci has recently published, off of a website called PornMD, an aggregation of every country’s porn habits based on the search items users who are located in that country use while accessing some porn websites.
Some interesting observations that the aforementioned website noticed are the following:
- Finland has Oedipus complex,
- Iran likes to search for gay porn,
- Ukraine has a thing for gay raincoats.
Some observations regarding the Middle East that I noticed are the following:
- Syria is into some form of incest. Their top search is aunt.
- Israelis are into Arabs.
- Palestinians love their families even in porn.
- Gulf countries have no data involved. Could be all the blocks.
Naturally, I figured I’d look at Lebanon’s part of the info-graphic. It’s sad to say we are not very creative, although slightly nauseating (shit orgy? Really?), in our porn browsing habits:
You can access the entire infographic, which contains no pornographic material, here.
Never since Nadine Labaki’s first movie Caramel have we had a decent Lebanese movie that doesn’t dwell on the Lebanese Civil War and Lebanon’s religious diversity. Some moviemakers tried to branch out and portray other aspects of society but their handling of the issue was either too shallow, too pretentious or downright silly. Until this came along.
Ossit Sawani – its English title being Blind Intersection – is not a movie about religion or the civil war. Thank God for that. It is the cross examination of the lives of three main people in Beirut as they go about key moments of their lives. Nour is an engineering student who is about to graduate when she loses both her parents in a car accident. She is left to take care of her elderly grandma with no financial means to do so. Karim is a young schoolboy who is the victim of maternal abuse and repeated child molestation as his body is sold for the next door grocer. India is a well-off western-mentality woman trying to conceive while attempting to give back to her community by teaching needy students at one of Lebanon’s government-run schools.
The movie is the story of how the lives of these characters intersect without them realizing – how the actions of one affect the other and shape their lives indefinitely. It is not a plot device that you haven’t seen before but it is the first time it’s used in a Lebanese movie. The scenes are jumbled and do not fall in chronological order. In a way, each character’s story has its own timeframe and you need to situate yourself accordingly in order to understand what’s happening.
Some of the scenes were a little dragged out or unnecessary. Other scenes felt out of the place but once you get into the mindset of what the movie is trying to say, it flows rather smoothly despite a few hiccups after an admittedly strong opening sequence with Nour going to the hospital where she finds out both her parents had passed away.
In a way, Ossit Sawani may not feel like a Lebanese movie at all because of what we have come to associate Lebanese movies with. But it is one. The city is Beirut. The dialect is Lebanese (I still don’t get why they feel like they need to give us English subtitles). The people are relatable. From a child trying to block out the sound of his mother having sex in the next room to shower sex scenes to subtle portrayal of the act of child molestation, Ossit Sawani is quite daring for what we have come to assume Lebanese movies are limited for. The extent that this movie goes to with regards to sex is proof enough that other movies such as Beirut Hotel were not banned because of nudity but because of their underlying political message.
Ossit Sawani is enjoyable enough for it to be worth the admission price but it eventually falls off very flat as the stories never seem to find a way to be resolved, open-endedness being another plot device employed. While that worked in Nadine Labaki’s Caramel as you felt the story arcs had sufficient material to feel substantial enough, the three stories in Ossit Sawani never feel complete or resolved, leaving you feeling let down as the credits start rolling.
Is it the Lebanese movie to bring the masses to the cinema? I doubt. At the end of the day, it attempts to be a gut-wrenching portrayal of modern Lebanese society woes but comes short. It tries to infuse a little humor here and there with some characters but the story is too grim to have that work as well. Ossit Sawani could have been much more than it turned out to be. However, it is a good sign that some Lebanese filmmakers have decided to branch out from the mold and actually do a decent job at it. Give Ossit Sawani a chance – you might be positively surprised.
“This movie is for serious and smart people only” said the marketing tagline. Then by all accounts, I’m a stupid person who knows nothing of seriousness.
My Last Valentine in Beirut is not a movie. I have no idea what to make of it actually. It’s a horrid mess. It’s a nauseating spectacle. It’s a disgustingly bad atrocity. It’s a jumble of scenes with no apparent link between them except a quest to build up into a running time of approximately 80 minutes. Meet Juliette, a whore in Beirut. Meet a movie director and his assistant wanting to make a movie about Juliette. That’s basically the entirety of My Last Valentine in Beirut for you.
There’s no depth in the movie. Not one bit. The characters are as flat as a board. The storyline – or lack thereof – is so void that you shouldn’t even attempt searching for anything in it. The jabs at Lebanese society are delivered by the characters turning to face the camera – there’s not even one hint of subtlety anywhere. The movie takes cheap shots at other Lebanese movies such as Caramel, Bosta and W Halla2 la Wein which by all accounts are much, much better than this mess. Juliette’s attitude, obviously hyperbolic, becomes more than grating at points. The point of this being a critique of Lebanon today becomes entirely detached from what’s happening on screen that any message the movie tries to pass feels forced especially as the last scene rolls around and you start wondering how the movie got to the conclusion it tries to bring forth with its obvious lack of build up towards anything mentally stimulating.
The absolutely useless 3D is only here for the extra revenue and it’s so distracting at times that it visually hurts. Some camera angles, which are supposedly “artistic,” don’t make sense – even to someone like yours truly whose expertise when it comes to movies is restricted to being an enthusiastic viewer. Even the only sex scene in the movie is of such catastrophic execution that it becomes one of the movie’s funniest moments. Those are not many.
You’d think that struggling Lebanese cinema would actually bother to come up with good enough movies especially with production being so scarce. But no, you get movies like My Last Valentine in Beirut which keep throwing one crappy scene after another at you in order to break the worst movie in history record, which is a shame really because the premise of a movie discussing prostitution in Lebanon is so dense that this movie, if actually done like a proper movie with a decent script, could have turned out well. Maybe. Who am I kidding. At some point during My Last Valentine in Beirut‘s rather short running time, I wished I was watching Breaking Dawn again. This was one of the worst movie experiences of my life. And that’s not an easy feat at all. My Last Valentine in Beirut has shattered my faith in Lebanese cinema into so many little pieces that next time a non-Nadine Labaki Lebanese movie is released, I’ll rely on other people going on a martyrdom viewing mission before I venture out.
Do not watch this. Even if your life depended on it. Even if your mother’s life depended on it. You could use the $10 admission price in so many better ways, not to mention the time of your life you wouldn’t have wasted trying to watch this cinematic massacre.
1/10 – and I’m being generous.
Leave it to Lebanese movies to reveal inherent complexes among some strata in our society. I have yet to watch My Last Valentine in Beirut and seeing as it’s already been released, I figured it must have passed through the fangs of censorship and landed safely on our screens. But that was too good to last apparently.
No, the problem isn’t with the supposed sex in it. It’s not with the main character being a prostitute. It’s not with the use of “foul” language that might be offensive to some as if people don’t hear the word “sharmou*a” day in day out. The problem with My Last Valentine in Beirut seems to be more clothes-related.
The syndicate of nursing in Lebanon is filing a lawsuit against My Last Valentine in Beirut for using a nurse’s outfit seductively in the movie. The sultry portrayal of nurses in the movie is, according to the syndicate, a violation of the sanctity of their profession. I guess they haven’t played doctor before.
If the demands of the syndicate are met, the movie will be either withdrawn from cinemas or edited to remove these “offensive” scenes. Lebanese filmmakers, regardless of how horrible their movies might be, apparently need to bring in portions from every single part of society for early screenings. You never know what might be in their movies that might be offensive to someone whose mental capacities seem to be limited at best because it seems that lately anyone finds something offensive in absolutely anything and cannot get past it.
You’d think the Lebanese Nursing syndicate would be fighting for the rights of Lebanon’s nurses. You’d think they’d be demanding better wages, better working hours, more benefits. Instead they throw their efforts at My Last Valentine in Beirut because they know that if they make a big enough fuss, someone out there in Lebanon’s narrow-minded censorship bureau will respond. And it’s not like the “sexy nurse” attire in movies hasn’t been overly overdone but feeling empowered only happens when it comes to local productions.
And how about that horrible XXL ad? Doesn’t it have “sexy nurses” for them to sue?
I don’t know if My Last Valentine in Beirut is a good enough movie or not. But I find a request to censor a movie based on what a character wore in it is ridiculous. How silly is it for anyone to find what a character wears in a movie offensive enough to call for the banning or the censoring of said movie? I’m sure even less open countries of the region haven’t had such problems with their productions. And when will people learn that asking to ban anything only brings attention to the thing you want to ban? It happened recently with Tannoura Maxi, which seems to be winning well at international film festivals.
There’s a fine line between fighting for your rights and being absolutely obnoxious. Lebanon’s nursing syndicate is sitting firmly in the nauseating camp. And some wonder where some nurses get their attitude!
After news regarding Tzipi Livni’s sexual escapades became the talk of the town, a reader let me know that the story which was originally reported in an Egyptian newspaper is flawed and incorrent. The link, which that reader shared with me, points back to an Israeli website. However, I find the arguments presented to be reasonable even though I’d still take it with a grain of salt only because one has to evade all those treason charges, as you know.
On the other hand, Charles Ayoub’s
tabloid newspaper Al Diyar is starting to “leak” the names of those with whom Tzipi Livni slept. The first name that was leaked is Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee. The second person Livni allegedly slept with is Saeb Erekat who was the Palestinian chief of the PLO Steering and Monitoring Committee. However, Al Diyar is known to pull stories out of nowhere with a level of credibility below the temperatures of Antarctica.
What’s Charles Ayoub’s source of the names? I don’t think we’ll ever know because the list may as well a work of fiction of the same mind who brought us this magnum opus.
Either way, the Tzipi Livni sex scandal or lack thereof is still making the rounds. But whether you believe she slept with countless men because a Jewish rabbi authorized it or whether you believe a woman like her would never do such a thing is entirely up to you.
Personally, I’m more interested in the level of sexual repression in the Arab men that may have possibly (or not) slept with her.